Aloha from the Rainbow State

The fiery archipelago of Hawaii is one of the most fascinating places I have visited. The islands’ stunning landscapes contain high levels of endemism. Walking around the sprawling metropolis of Honolulu, bright, fragrant flowers attract colorful birds with rounded narrow beaks. Diversity in nature intersects diversity in culture as Polynesian traditions blend with Filipino and Japanese influence.

 

Sunset sailing is a great way to enjoy the beauty of Diamond Head

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Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Palau may be a small country but it is positioning itself as a mighty force in the world of ocean conservation and smart growth. Palau created a shark sanctuary in 2001. In 2007, Palau established a nation-wide Protected Areas Network which is funded, in large part, by a Green Fee levied on foreign tourists. In 2015, Palau took the plunge and designated their entire EEZ as a National Marine Sanctuary, closing all waters to commercial fishing and setting aside 80% as a no-take zone. As of this year, the country is doubling-down on smart growth and responsible tourism. Countless international NGOs, foundations, and foreign governments have a presence in the country and collaborate on everything from tuna tagging to aerial surveys for illegal fishing boats. Continue reading

Winter is Coming

I’ve just been hearing reports that all my friends and family in California are dying of heatstroke, and you know what that means- it must be winter! In Fiji, that is. Fijians in the PCEG office at IUCN are all talking about how cold it’s getting here in Suva, but today is the first day I wore a light sweater, and I had to take it off halfway through the day after I got overheated. I actually had to learn how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius from a Polish guy at my hostel when I visited the tourist town of Nadi, in order to tell people about the vast temperature range in my hometown. Something apparently pretty foreign to Fijians. Continue reading

Where the marine meets the mountains

It is a peculiar and strange innervation working on issues in the marine space but working in a location that is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The closest saltwater environment is Great Salt Lake while the closest marine environment is surprisingly and amusingly the Gulf of California (Mar de Cortez). Marine scientists more than likely spend more time 60 feet below water than on mountains above 14000 feet, but that has been this summer. A perplexing circumstance of opposites that have raised eyebrows of people who hear about the work I have been doing and where. Continue reading

Only a mile from MIIS

I may not have ended up in a tropical country this summer but my office in Heritage Harbor, only a few blocks from MIIS, is exactly the place to be for anyone interested in marine policy. Not only do we get picturesque views of the Monterey Harbor and surrounding bay, my office in the NOAA Marine Protected Areas Center is surrounded by dozens of similar government organizations and NGOs. This includes representation for the MBNMFS, Save the Whales, Oceana, The Nature Conservancy, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, staff offices for elected officials, and many more I haven’t come across yet. Continue reading

Sustainability Across Borders

Hello from San Diego!

Not captured on camera: the green flash.

Last week-end, I crossed the border and adventured to Baja. I was warned that entering Baja at Tijuana — a chaotic metropolis not without its own charms — can be jarring for first-time border-crossers. Yet, I didn’t expect to be struck by the lack of vegetarian options. In Tijuana, before taking the bus to Ensenada, I tried to get lunch at a food stall. In my rusty spanish, I asked the vendor if he had anything vegetarian. He chuckled and mentioned that the guy across the street had chicken. After I reminded him that chicken was a type of meat, he pointed out that if I was really hungry, the store around the corner sold candy. I gave up and snacked on the bread and peanut butter I had packed earlier that morning. Continue reading

Navigating the Streets of Rome and Halls of the UN FAO

My first three weeks at the Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Rome have been all about meeting people, making connections and learning the ins and outs of this specialized agency of the United Nations. I am interning with the Blue Growth Initiative, housed within the Fisheries Department, which seeks to promote sustainable economic growth that emphasizes sound management of aquatic resources and ecosystem services and improves livelihoods and social equity. It is very exciting to be working on a program that takes a holistic view of and approach to tackling the seemingly intractable issues surrounding over-exploitation of marine resources, poverty and gender inequality.

The FAO has one of the best views in Rome!

I’m official!

Welcome to the UN FAO

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All The Way To The Top

123 Mission street in the Financial district of San Francisco, floor #28, all the way to the top. Who would have thought I could end up here, but here I am, working for EDF (Environmental Defense Fund or in more recent years, just Environmental Defense). For those who may not know, EDF has been involved in such big scale environmental defense cases as the ban on DDT and the Clean Air Act. EDF has also collaborated with companies such as McDonald’s and Fed Ex to bring about more environmentally friendly operations. As EDF celebrates 50 years of service to environmental causes, it has expanded to locations throughout the world and is tackling complex global issues such as climate change, ocean resource depletion, ecosystem reduction, and human health issues related to pollution. It is an organization full of inspired and inspiring individuals and I am so lucky to be working alongside them this summer. Continue reading

Contradictions, Conservation, and the Complexities of Community-Based Management

Palau is a country of complex and striking contradictions. Newly constructed, glittering hotels tower above muddy, pothole-ridden streets. Private homes boast wifi hotspots but lack in-home access to potable water. Palauans take great pride in their identity as a nation of fishermen, yet often choose Spam or hamburgers over fish when given the choice. It is a country of astounding natural beauty with a deep commitment to conservation, yet the streets are jam packed with pollution-spewing cars and the traffic rivals that of the Bay Area. Conservation leaders talk of the importance of enforcement while allowing their children to spearfish for undersized fish. Elders are troubled by the depletion and damage they see on their reefs while the youth peer out at the ocean and say “there is, like, so much coral out there, what’s the big deal?”

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Welcome to San Diego!

Beginning my temporary life in San Diego has been very easy. From 80 degrees, sunny days, to amazing food and gorgeous beaches, San Diego is an easy place to get used to. I started my internship at the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative excited about shadowing Laura Engeman and absorbing everything I experienced. On the first day she had me running! Between planning and organizing our Living Shorelines workshop, going to meetings with the Taxpayers Association, steering committees and working groups, Laura quickly welcomed me to her world.

Sunset in La Jolla

My third week in we held the Living Shorelines and Resilience in Southern California workshop. With 60 Southern California professionals in attendance, the workshop aimed to advance the local dialogue around using living shorelines to increase community resilience to coastal hazards. Workshop attendees brought a variety of experience into the room, with backgrounds in natural resource management, engineering, land use planning, biology, and climate and ocean science. It was fascinating to listen around the room, understanding everyone’s different perspective on the coastal issues in their cities and how living shorelines can apply to many cities’ requirements in Southern California.

The blue group (that’s me!) discussing how to bring community resilience into Living Shoreline projects.

The workshop was an amazing success and it was an awesome feeling to see my efforts come to fruition, but as soon as the San Diego workshop was over, we started planning for the Los Angeles/Orange County workshop which will take place on August 10th (so look forward to hearing about that!). In the meantime, I have been going to networking events, city council meetings, and information interviews; Laura has been amazing in pushing me to meet everyone possible while down here for the summer. Already I am beginning to understand the difficulties and opportunities of working within a collaborative. Obviously opinions differ at times, but when everyone sits down and is able to work through what each entity needs and how those needs are similar or intertwine in some way is an amazing accomplishment to experience.

Until next time!

La Jolla Shores

 

On Better Ocean Policy and Conservationists Catching Undersized Fish

Our first few weeks in Fiji have been a series of juxtapositions. Aimee and I live in an admittedly grimy, traffic ridden city but are only a bus ride away from pristine beaches.  I spend my working hours researching Ocean Policy Frameworks in the South Pacific but still happily chow down on tuna which is almost assuredly undersized.  Everyone has been so kind and generous since we have arrived.  Our landlords gave us the last avocado off their tree our first week here.

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In which Californians discover rain exists

Bula vinaka and hello!

It’s amazing to think we’ve been in Suva for three weeks already, or should I say, only three weeks? We’ll be here until the end of August, so although three weeks sounds like a fairly decent amount of time to spend on a tropical island, we still have a lot to accomplish, both for our CBE Summer Fellowship work at IUCN and in terms of checking off our bucket lists. I’ll describe some of our experiences and let Alex, my fellow CBE Fellow at IUCN Oceania, cover the rest.

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